Fourth-grader suspended for showing BB gun during online class sparks change in virtual learning discipline policies

Louisiana News

(KLFY)- Schools across Louisiana as well as here in Acadiana are changing their virtual learning discipline policies.

(KLFY)- The change comes after a 9-year-old student’s expulsion made state representatives reconsider how the policies are applied to students at home.

It all began when Ka’mauri Harrison, a fourth-grader in New Orleans, was taking an online test at home. His brother tripped on a BB gun, and Harrison picked up the gun and placed it on his desk in view of the computer camera.

School officials wanted to expel Harrison, but Louisiana officials said no.

“Schools were applying the law as it’s written for a brick and mortar school to the home, and it was like putting a square peg in a round hole. It wasn’t written for that purpose. It’s never been applied to the home,” Louisiana Solicitor General Elizabeth Murrill said.

When Harrison put the BB gun on his desk while taking an online test, school officials wanted to expel him.

His teacher and school officials said Harrison should be expelled because he handled a “full-sized rifle” while at an extension of the school campus, his home.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and state representatives disagreed.

“There was a general view that the home is not the same as a brick and mortar school, and the policies need to be thoughtful and need to be different. And you certainly can’t reflectively apply laws that were written for brick and mortar schools or in person events like a football game or a prom. You can’t just automatically apply those to a home,” Murrell added.

Harrison’s expulsion was later reduced to a six-day suspension, but his story pushed state representatives to pass House Bill 83.

The bill now requires that school districts change their discipline policies that apply to distance learning.

“Everybody seems to agree that virtual education is here to stay. We don’t think that it’s going to go away entirely,” Murrell said. “A lot of people like it, and that means we need to be giving some careful consideration to policy and the difference between home and brick and mortar schools.”

With this bill, students recommended for expulsion also now have the right to have the school board review their case to appeal that decision.

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